Mason Jar Mania: 5 Portable Summer Desserts

The Mason jar was around long before our great-grandparents were born, yet it took about 150 years, the birth of Pinterest, and the proliferation of hipsters to catapult this classic canning tool to its current trendy status. 

The versatile Mason jar is popping up everywhere and DIY-ers use them to make EVERYTHING: vases, lanterns, cocktail shakers, hanging herb gardens, soap dispensers, etc. For a while, I was perplexed by the glass jar's popularity - sure they're cute, but that doesn't mean you have to hang them chandelier-style above your dining room table (but if you do, I commend you for your craftiness and dedication to the DIY cause). 

Plenty of my friends jumped to agree with me when I said I thought mason jars were overrated. But then someone pointed out that mason jars are one of the BEST ways to pack food for a picnic. I tested the theory out and found it to be oh-so-true. 

Thanks to its tight seal and durable exterior, you can pack virtually any meal (aside from sandwiches) into a mason jar. And it will survive even the bumpiest journey without spilling food all over your picnic basket.

Salads and soups are perfect for mason jars, but sweets are my personal favorite food to pack inside of them. Gorgeously layered Mason jar desserts are a great way to impress your besties and even make new friends (if you brought extras!) while picnicking on a hot summer's day. They're so portable and adorable... and no one can resist them. 

Check out the special Mason jar dessert recipes I developed in RC's Test Kitchen: 

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Strawberry Champagne Shortcake Jars - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

I decided to give this summer favorite an adult makeover by macerating the strawberries in booze. I went with cava (Spanish sparkling wine) because I’m cheap, but you could use champagne to make this an even more upscale treat.

The bubbly-soaked strawberries mingle with luscious layers of whipped cream frosting and homemade angel food cake. I found this project to be pretty relaxing, but the recipe does require a little bit of love (lots of whipping eggs and cream), so save this one for the weekend when you aren’t in a rush.

 

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Tiramisu Mason Jars - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

This dessert is classic Italian cuisine at its finest. It’s an authentic recipe, complete with the raw egg custard… which kind of freaked me out at first. But after a few hours in the fridge, the tiramisu tasted so amazing that I forgot about the uncooked eggs. 

This was one of the easiest Mason jar recipes I’ve made, so if you’re in a hurry to get out of the kitchen, this is your go-to option.

 

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Butterscotch Dirt Mugs - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

I recently read an article on NPR that proclaimed, “Butterscotch is making a comeback!” I personally couldn’t be more excited about this news as I’ve always had a soft spot for it, despite my grandma’s best attempts to make me hate them with those disgusting hard butterscotch candies gathering dust at the bottom of her purse. 

I had to celebrate butterscotch’s new wave of popularity by pairing this nostalgic flavor with cookies and cream. This super simple pudding tastes a million times better than the boxed stuff!

 

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Cherry-Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecake Cups - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

Grocery stores are currently overflowing with cherries, so I have been desperately wanting to use them in a recipe. This test kitchen concoction marries the tartness of the cherries with sour lemons and tangy goat cheese. 

The fruit’s crimson color lends a pretty pink hue to the cheesecake that shines through the mason jars.  All of my friends went absolutely nuts for this dessert! It’s a rich and luscious way to celebrate summer’s sweet bounty.

The best part of this recipe is that you bake the cheesecakes inside the mason jars – for some reason, this method is so much easier than cooking the cheesecake in a big pan. I always screwed up normal-sized cheesecakes when I was in culinary school – over and over again, no matter what. If a lost cause like me can make this recipe without botching it, you can nail it!

 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcake Cups - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

Once you try eating cupcakes from a mason jar, you’ll never go back to the old way. You get more frosting in every bite and your hands don’t get all sticky. 

Rich chocolate cupcake circles are layered between pillows of smooth peanut butter cream cheese frosting. It’s an easy, crowd-pleasing confection.

Article and photos by: Amanda Patton

Recipe of the Day: Yellow Cakes in a Jar

To learn how Melissa d'Arabian makes her Yellow Cakes in a Jar, click here.